|Kaskaskia River near Baldwin, IL|
Then the murmurs became statements , "Rivers really getting high..." They've closed the flood gates at Cora, County Farm Road is closed. " " I pushed water with my bumper all the way down Highway 153."
Today there are no statements, no murmurs. Today it's all about action. The water is coming up fast and furious, the river levels are rapidly reaching historic proportions. Roads are closed, people, animals and machinery are heading to higher ground. farm fields are inundated and full of fish, ducks, geese.
Yesterday when my partner in crime SILOBob and I were out checking water levels he admonished me for not taking more photos. I had to explain that when you live between two rivers (The Kaskaskia and Mississippi) springtime and often autumn floods are just a way of life. We don't think too much about it.
The water comes up, the water goes down.
I have flood photos from so many years.. all looking remarkably alike. There might be a different name on restaraunt along a flooded street, and perhaps the autos and trucks have a different body style, but it's always the same places, looking the same.
But then there are those exceptional years; The Historic Top Ten Crests for the Mississippi in our county
1) 49.74 ft on 08/07/1993
2) 44.00 ft on 05/23/1995
3) 43.32 ft on 04/30/1973
4) 41.02 ft on 05/05/1983
5) 40.58 ft on 05/17/2002
6) 39.83 ft on 06/30/1844
7) 39.79 ft on 04/16/1979
8) 39.54 ft on 10/10/1986
9) 39.50 ft on 12/09/1982
10) 39.46 ft on 07/01/2008
As I type this, we are at Major Flood Stage and 38.13 feet a full ten feet plus above what is considered "flood stage" . The crest forecasts are constantly changing as the rain keeps falling - the most recent I heard was "At least forty feet, probably more."
I knew when I awoke this morning, with that backwater, river rat instinctive knowledge that this is going to be one of those exceptional years. Today I stood on a levee with one of the "Old Timers" during a torrential downpour and I watched a sadness creep into his eyes, a tiredness from fighting the river his entire life; sometimes winning, sometimes losing. We were literally watching the water rise. " You know," he sighed " I've been here a long, long time." He wiped the rain from his face with faded red handkerchief and shook his head, " This one's going to bad...maybe as bad '73, maybe as bad as '93, but bad for sure."
So we watched the water rise and like all good river rats, murmured to each other like a prayer , "The water will come up, the water will go down, and I'll still be here. " All the while wondering what will be left when it does finally go down, and when that will be.